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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida September 28, 2015

Remarks by Secretary Carter and Minister Kishida at a Signing Ceremony at the Pentagon


STAFF: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending today's signing ceremony. Please rise for the arrival of the official party.

(Speaking in Japanese).

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASH CARTER: Okay.

STAFF: Please be seated.

(Speaking in Japanese).

Representatives of the government of the United States and the government of Japan will sign an agreement between United States of America and Japan on cooperation in the field of environmental stewardship relating to the United States Armed Forces in Japan, supplementary to the agreement under Article VI of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States of America and Japan, regarding facilities and areas, and the status of United States Armed Forces in Japan.

(Speaking in Japanese).

Ladies and gentlemen, the secretary of defense.

SEC. CARTER: Thank you.

See if I can turn this on. How's that? That working? Okay.

Well, listen. Thank you all for being here and it's a real privilege for me today to welcome to the Pentagon Foreign Minister Kishida.

Let me first and foremost thank him for his leadership, for his hospitality during my visit to Japan a few months ago, and say that the United States welcomes and supports Japan's efforts to adopt a more proactive role in helping to maintain regional and global security.

I commend Prime Minister Abe for his leadership in securing the passage of the defense legislation earlier this month that will allow the United States and Japan to do more as an alliance, both in the region and beyond.

America's rebalance to the Asia-Pacific has always been about sustaining the progress of the region and promoting a regional security architecture where everybody wins.

As secretary of defense, I am personally committed to the next phase in which we deepen our long-standing alliances and partnerships with old friends and new.

As part of our rebalance, we're also adapting our overall defense posture to be more flexible and more sustainable. To that end, we are mindful about being good neighbors, which includes realigning our bases and being aware of any concerns that local communities might have about our operations.

Today, Minister Kishida and I signed an important clarification to the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement that represents a big step forward in our alliance. The agreement continues the momentum that we have built up in recent years and reaffirms a commitment between our two countries to strengthen cooperation on environmental stewardship in relation to the U.S. Armed Forces.

This agreement is a testament to the enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance, and comes at a time when U.S. Armed Forces and Japan self-defense forces have found new opportunities to cooperate around the world and in frontiers such as space and cyberspace.

I want to thank the government of Japan, in particular Prime Minister Abe, Minister Kishida and Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga, for their steadfast support to the Futenma replacement facility. And Minister Kishida, I particularly want to thank you and your team for your hard work in bringing about the completion of this environmental agreement. Thank you for being here and thank you for this.

SEC. CARTER (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): (Speaking in Japanese).

STAFF: Thank you, Secretary Carter. The minister of foreign affairs will now give remarks.

(Speaking in Japanese.)

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese.)

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): First of all, the last time I met Secretary Carter was in April on the occasion of the 2+2 meeting. I am very much pleased to meet Secretary Carter today to sign the Supplemental Agreement on the Environment of Status of Forces Agreement, and in – between April and now, Japan has passed legislation for peace and security in the Diet.

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese).

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Since we began the negotiation last February on Supplemental Agreement on Environment of SOFA, government of Japan mad utmost efforts to sign this agreement as soon as possible, although at times we have had difficult phases in the negotiations.

I am extremely pleased that today, efforts on both sides have come into fruition, and that we are able to sign this agreement.

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese).

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This agreement is the first international agreement to supplement SOFA in 55 years, since its ratification, and therefore, it has a historical significance that is different from operational improvement we have taken in the past.

Also in this agreement, we have incorporated requests made previously from local communities, such as access to United States forces facilities and areas, as well as applying stricter environmental standards between the two governments.

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese).

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): This agreement has an extremely important end meaning in enhancing the confidence of local communities, as well as gaining further support of the people of Japan on Japan-U.S. security arrangements into the future.

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese).

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): After signing this agreement, we would like to bolster our cooperation between the -- Japan and United States to bring about results in environmental measures.

MR. KISHIDA: (Speaking in Japanese).

MR. KISHIDA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I once again would like to express my appreciation to Secretary Carter and all those involved on the United States side.

STAFF: Thank you, Minister Kishida.

Now for the signing of the agreement.

(Speaking in Japanese).

SEC. CARTER: Here we go.

(APPLAUSE)

STAFF: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes today's ceremony. Please remain seated for the departure of the official party.

(Speaking in Japanese).

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